It was a normal day at the Edinburgh Festival (The biggest arts festival in the world)–sitting for seven hours imbibing the creative juices of others.
Time it takes to fly to New York–with breaks.
Starting at 10am at the Traverse Theatre and finishing at 11pm at the Festival Theatre.
We saw four remarkable shows and walked home happy.
Mark Thomas–who combines stand-up comedy with political activism–started our day with a sad tale entitled Cuckooed.
In a brilliantly funny display of controlled anger–he tells the true story of how he and a small group of friends, members of the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) were betrayed by someone they thought of as a trusted comrade and friend, who was in fact an undercover spy for BAE–the UK’s leading arms manufacturer.
The fellow had been warning his paymasters of every move planned by the protest group.
“Some of the people affected have had mental health issues as a direct consequence,” Mark says. ” I want audiences to understand the emotional turmoil something like this kicks off.”
Doesn’t sound like a barrel of early morning laughs but Thomas managed to send us out of the theatre an hour later in a merry mood of indignation–keen to take on our next audience challenge.
A taxi ride across the medieval old town of Edinburgh
took us to the Festival Theatre and the prospect of seeing The James Plays;
The National Theatre of Scotland’s new three play saga written by Rona Munro, set in medieval Scotland.
No coincidence of course that there is a referendum coming up on the 18th of September–a vote for or against independence for Scotland.
“YES” and “NO” signs high and low across town–signaled a campaign in full swing.
We were in the Upper Circle for James I and II and in the Stalls for James III.
From on high we could make out the faint markings of the Scottish flag on the stage floor–white cross on blue background; the plays tell the story of a nation emerging through the 15th century.
James I was at Agincourt (1415) as long time prisoner of England’s Henry V.
James II was on the throne when Leonardo da Vinci was born, April 15 1452–five hundred years to the day before the birth of Meredith Wheeler!
Towards the end of the reign of Scotland’s James III, England’s hunchback Richard III was killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field (1485).
Not a whiff of Shakespeare, more Stratford East than Stratford upon Avon, with a rude boy Henry bullying his captive–future James I of Scotland–with Saturday-night-out language that our taxi driver would recognise.
An exhilarating experience and destined for The National Theatre down south.
Sweet William’s way with words would describe one common theme in the plays.
Twenty- four hours later, we were back in the Tarn.
While the audience was arriving for the final performance at the Festival Theatre…
…we sat outside, eating our pasta, watching the cows.